Image by mdprovost via Flickr....The air is foul, the waters poisoned, the trees dying, the animals are disappearing. We think even the systems of weather are changing. Our ancient teaching warned us that if Man interfered with the Natural Laws, these things would come to be. When the last of the Natural Way of Life is gone, all hope for human survival will be gone with it. And our Way of Life is fast disappearing, a victim of the destructive processes....
...The people who are living on this planet need to break with the narrow concept of human liberation, and begin to see liberation as something which needs to be extended to the whole of the Natural World. What is needed is the liberation of all the things that support Life -- the air, the waters, the trees -- all the things which support the sacred web of Life....
From "A Basic Call to Consciousness" The Hau de no sau nee Address to the Western World, Geneva Switzerland 1977
By Grant Lawrence
Around the 15th century in the land of great lakes and rivers in North America there lived a Great Peacemaker named Dekanawida ('two river-currents flowing together.'—Hewitt). He was said to to be born of virgin birth from a Huron mother. The Great Peacemaker, along with Hiawatha, would later go on to unite the Iroquois tribes in a confederation that lasts to this day. That confederation was used as a model by Benjamin Franklin and many of the American founding fathers when considering how to establish a government in the United States.
The Great Peacemaker taught a powerful spiritual message which can be summed up as peace, unity, and the power of a good mind. To the Iroquois, peace is more than just an absence of war. "In the Iroquoian mind, peace is a state of mind. Power, which can easily be thought of as military strength, but more appropriately, it means that one heart, one mind, one head, and one body allowed the Confederacy to remain united in the face of many enemies," according to Shelley Brant of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ontario, Canada.
Dekanawida has passed on but his spirit remains in this great land. We are now living in troubled times and the message of the Great Peacemaker is more important than ever.
In the Thunder realm the Great Peacemaker resides with the Holy Ones. His personality is no longer Dekanawida but his love for all of humanity is great. Once this beautiful and holy man had spent his life in loving service. Dekanawida had graced his people with his peaceful and inspiring presence in a beautiful land. Now the Great Peacemaker has a Thunder message from his Thunder family and it is time for us to listen.
In honor of the Great Peacemaker, I write these words.
"Brothers and Sisters of the human family. Your minds are sick and the earth is sickened from your sick mind. I have been chosen to once again deliver a message from the Thunder Beings that love and care for all of you.
It is time for you to consider your sickness and seek healing medicine.
Most of the human family is crazed with wanting and having. That has made your hearts very cold and has confused your minds. There is now very little feeling for life or understanding of the spirit that lives in all. You can no longer see the beauty of the spirit and the truth of Love. It has been blocked by a craziness from a sick mind that clouds your seeing and deadens your feeling.
So it is that the world's sickness arises from a sickness of the mind. Unfortunately, it is likely that a great storm must cleanse the earth. After which life will prosper, but not all life. Humanity doesn't see the connection between the mind and the spirits of the world. How your minds can heal or cause so much suffering. Humanity doesn't see this because you are dead to a great part of your life. That is why you worship so much death and destruction. It allows you to feel something even though you are mostly dead to the spirit. Being dead to the spirit makes beings want more and more because they are afraid to feel their own empty dead selves.
That is the sickness of this age. A people that worships the power of death and destruction. A people that has lost touch with the spirits.
To the people of this age all seems dead and all seems without spirit. Things have become just bits of other things to be manipulated and used. There is no reverence for the beauty and the spirits in all things. People too have become just things to the leaders of this earth, to be used and manipulated. The powers of the earth have lost touch with the spirit of their people and they have no love for them. The leaders of this world are motivated only by fear and power and thus they think that is the only thing that can motivate all of humanity. They create disunity and disharmony and they believe that this is what will give them the power to continue to rule. They have become disciples of death and by them the thunder power will be brought to this earth to cleanse it.
But know this. You can choose on what path to walk this very day. Do you choose to walk in Love and Reasoning or do you choose to walk in hatred and fear? If you choose Love and Reason then you will honor yourself and the people of the world. If you choose anger and fear then you will continue to feed a disease that must be cleansed. You also will continue to be manipulated and used as followers of fear and death.
Humanity is presently very sick but you don't have to be sick. Once you have chosen to live in Love and to use your mind then you have chosen to be well. Healing can spread just as easily as disease. It is your path to choose.
Know this too. That the path you choose effects all of life in some way. The path of healing medicine will arise from choosing that which unites and brings peace. The spirit of the earth and all of the spirits of life feel a kinship with those that choose the great healing medicine that comes from a healthy mind.
A healthy mind will do much to help you and the world. There is no mental sickness in Love and Reasoning. That is the healing medicine that will unite and help do so much good in life.
The Thunder family hopes that all will listen to wise elders of the past and walk in a healthy heart and mind. We will work with those that choose to live in Love and use their Reason. We will be there for them on the other side of their consciousness to encourage them and to help protect them. There are also other numerous great spiritual "tribes" of Loving beings that will assist humanity in a move toward healing. We will all help you to do wonderful things for yourselves and others if you will open to healing medicine and choose to walk the path of a Good Mind and a Good Heart."
And So it is written in Honor of the Great Peacemaker and our Thunder Family.
Republican Michele Bachmann has become the lead conspiracy theorist in the U.S. Congress. She has always been flakey (God talking directly to her and telling her to run for Congress is a good example) and her judgment always questionable (calling Obama anti-American was pretty hard to beat) but lately she is becoming completely irresponsible. Some of us are wondering if she might have some type of medical problem. (hint: mental) Her latest calls for the people of Minnesota to become “armed and dangerous” on opposing cap and trade is way over the top. It does seem like there should be some basic limitations to what members of Congress can call for, and calling for an armed revolution is a strange thing for the rest of Congress to tolerate from any member. I mean, they’re members of the government themselves, so they should understand the need for the law they represent to be obeyed, at least.
But not Ms. Bachmann. Bachmann’s latest conspiracy theory is two-pronged. Conspiracy One: President Obama is trying to destroy America by going along with a one-world currency, and/or destroying the dollar despite that he has denied this and said he has no intention of going along with China’s suggestion– which wasn’t about what she says it was about to begin with. (See China suggests switch from dollar). This sort of deliberate misunderstanding of a simple event, and then twisting the facts to present it as anti-American behavior from a “Democrat” is the hallmark of how Bachmann operates. It’s her standard MO. This is not something anyone in Minnesota should tolerate.
Conspiracy Two: Global warming is caused by solar flares and other natural things (like the voices in her head); not by people at all, and her deliberate false statements that President Obama will use the global warming issue to set up the one-world currency, or to tax us all to death, or some such other ridiculous thing to “destroy our country”. Direct quote from last week:
“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, “Having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,” and the people – we the people – are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.”
Ridiculous and dishonest and deliberately misleading. She actually feels that doing something about climate change, by limiting and eventually ending greenhouse gas emissions, is some sort of conspiracy to destroy America.
It might even be understandable, (from a right-wing point of view), if her conspiracy theories made sense or were based on reality, but that’s not the case.
I should also add that (due to no fault of my own) she is my Congressman, which really pisses me off. On April 9th, she is going to hold what she is calling a “climate forum” in my city. This will amount to a skeptics forum where she will present her disbelief of global warming as a fact. That also really pisses me off. (I’ll write about that later after it takes place.)
The following is a great description of her current madness, completely with Updates, from Think Progress. Keep in mind that nothing she said in this exchange is true, or could be imagined as true, in the mind of anyone who is considered honest.
Earlier this week, right-wing fanatic Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) started peddling false conspiracy theories that the world was moving toward a unified global currency — and that the U.S. might join in as early as next week’s G-20 conference. The myth was started when China’s central bank governor suggested replacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Though the suggestion has nothing to do with a unified global currency, Fox News’ Major Garrett decided to ask President Obama whether he supported the fictional prospect of such a move. (Obama, for the record, does not.)
Today on Glenn Beck’s radio show, Bachmann declared that the U.S. will soon be moving to “give up the dollar as our currency and we would just go with a One World currency.” Such action, she warned, would mean the U.S. as a country would be “no more”:
BACHMANN: As you know, Russia, China, Brazil, India, South Africa, many nations have lined up now and have called for an international global currency, a One World currency and they want to get off of the dollar as the reserve currency.
BECK: Most people don’t understand, Michele, what that means.
BACHMANN: What that means is all of the countries in the world would have a single currency. We would give up the dollar as our currency and we would just go with a One World currency. … If we give up the dollar as our standard, and co-mingle the value of the dollar with the value of coinage in Zimbabwe, that dilutes our money supply. We lose control over our economy. And economic liberty is inextricably entwined with political liberty. Once you lose your economic freedom, you lose your political freedom. And then we are no more, as an exceptional nation, as we always have been. So this is imperative.
Bachmann claimed that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he was “open” to the One World currency. (In reality, he only said he was open to changes in the IMF special drawing rights, and reaffirmed his commitment to the dollar.) Beck warned that speaking out about the global currency gets one labeled a “kook,” but Bachmann brushed off such concerns, saying she’s been called that “throughout [her] political career”:
BACHMANN: Well, Glenn, I have experienced that throughout my political career, being labeled a kook. It just happened again in a big story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. But all we have to do is point to the treasury secretary on tape, on camera. This is not Michele Bachmann being a kook. This is our treasury secretary on tape and on camera.
BACHMANN: But let me tell you, there’s something that’s happening this week in congress that could be the eventual unraveling for our freedom and it was this. I have also asked the treasury secretary and Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chair, if they would categorically denounce taking the United States off of the dollar and putting us on an international global currency because as you know, Russia, China, Brazil, India, South Africa, many nations have lined up now and have called for an international global currency, a one world currency and they want to get off of the dollar as the reserve currency.
BECK: Most people don’t understand, Michele, what that means.
BACHMANN: What that means is all of the countries in the world would have a single currency. We would give up the dollar as our currency and we would just go with a one world currency and now for the first time we’re seeing major countries like China, India, Russia, countries like that calling for a one world currency and they want this discussion to occur at the G20. So I asked both the treasury secretary and the Federal Reserve chair if they would categorically denounce this. The reason why is because if we give up the dollar as our standard and commingle the value of a dollar with the value of coinage in Zimbabwe, that dilutes our money supply. We lose control over our economy and economic liberty is inextricably entwined with political liberty. Once you lose your economic freedom, you’ve lost your political freedom and then we are no more as an exceptional nation as we always have been. So this is imperative. Well, what happened, the day after I asked that question for the treasury secretary, secretary Geithner went before the council on foreign relations and the same subject came up. After that meeting after he categorically denounced it to me, he said to the council on foreign relations he would be open to this proposal of a single currency, of expanding the international monetary funds’ special drawing down rates. That’s what they’re called. And this created a huge firestorm which the value of the dollar literally tumbled upon his words when he said that.
BECK: Right. And then somebody said, “I think you want to revisit that again.” And he did and he said, “Well, no, I don’t mean…”
BECK: And what’s going to happen is if you start to talk about a global currency which I’m telling you there’s no way out of what we’re doing now besides devaluing the dollar to pay off our debt and then have a new currency. There’s just no other way.
BACHMANN: But we can stop that.
BECK: Wait a minute. Congresswoman, what happens is when you stand up and when you say those things, then you’re deemed a kook. Then you’re deemed a militia member. And there are too many people in America that will still listen to the mainstream media. They will still listen to, you know, to those in Washington on both sides of the aisle that say, “Oh, no, well, that’s never going to happen.” And so they sit there and do nothing. And those who do want to do something are afraid because they don’t want to be deemed a kook. And they also are tired of being played by politicians in Washington.
BACHMANN: Well, Glenn, I have experienced that throughout my political career being labeled a kook. It just happened again in a big story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. But all we have to do is point to the treasury secretary on tape, on camera. This is not Michele Bachmann being a kook. This is our treasury secretary on tape and on camera. And also we now have countries across the world asking for this. That’s why I went to my fellow colleagues and I dropped a bill day before yesterday that would bind the president’s hands, that wouldn’t allow him to enter into a treaty or an international agreement to take us off the dollar and put us on an international currency.
As the investors turned their backs on the manufacturers whose hard work, sweat and tears bathed the nation in the cleaning purity of American pride and allowed everyone to eat from the fruits of their labors, and instead embraced the bankers and smarmy pundits so they could lick their butts to receive the drops of moisture left over from Bush’s soiled and blood-soaked underwear.
After eight years of squeezing the American Workers to gain more blood for the soiled and blood-soaked underwear at the cost of their jobs making the fruits of American labor rot on the vine as the American sweat dried up and was replaced by the moisture of soiled and blood-soaked underwear.
With no fruit the American Workers blood became thick no longer supplying enough moisture to allow the bankers and smarmy pundits to bathe in the moisture of Bush’s soiled and blood-soaked underwear.
Investors continued try to lick off the moisture from the bankers and smarmy pundits butts, however their asses were dry as they got no American Workers Blood to moisten their soiled and blood-soaked underwear.
Now it is urgent we return to eating the fruit that has been grown from the sweat of American labor and no longer rely on the moisture of Bush’s soiled and blood-soaked underwear.
From Bad Astronomy:
The State Board of Education voted on the science standards — the list of basic scientific knowledge students should have at various grade levels, like knowing that atoms are the basic building blocks of matter, the Earth goes around the Sun, and — say — evolution is the basic and most fundamental aspect upon which all of modern biology is based.
Creationists on the board (and there are many) tried to water down the standards by creating a phony baloney "strengths and weaknesses" amendment, a totally bogus and arbitrary rule that says that teachers have to point out where a theory has faults. They did this specifically to weaken the teaching of evolution in biology classes. They don’t actually care if the students get a solid education on the fact of evolution, they only care to tear down real science and replace it with Biblical literalism.
Science wins in Texas.
The Texas School Board voted 7-7 on the amendment, it needed a clear majority to win.
For those who think that teaching the “Strengths and Weaknesses” of a basic scientific theory can’t do much harm, here is a few scientific theories that have some Weaknesses:
Gravity is a fundamental force of the universe. However like all theories it has some “flaws”.
Although we can observe the effects of gravity, if you drop something it will fall. We have no clue as to what gravity (as a fundamental force) is.
It current approach to account is to treat it as a form of energy couples with spacetime to create the geometries that cause gravity. This is wrong, scientist know it is wrong but until a less wrong theory comes along this explanation works (mostly).
This weakness in the Theory of Gravity shouldn’t stop kids from being taught about Gravity because these weaknesses don’t come into play until you are studying relativity/quantum mechanics and you have plenty of time learn about it in your first few years of college.
If the 7 Texas school board members still want to see if a theory that has weaknesses should be taught, they can go to the top of a high bridge and step off. I will use the “flawed” Theory of Gravity to predict the exact second they will land.
Matter and Energy
“Matter and Energy can neither be created or destroyed. Merely transformed into a different state.”
Is something I had to learn in 8th grade, it holds up in most cases until the very small. It runs into problems at the very smallest scale. Max Planck observed that energy acts like integers 1,2,3,4 and so on. So it is not a straight line. In photoelectric cells atoms happily sit there absorbing less than 1 unit of energy until they reach that magical 1unit and then they release it.
While the atom is absorbing the energy, it is gone from the universe only to reappear when it is released.
Should students be taught that it is fine to work on a perpetual motion machine because of this one little loophole in Spacetime?
For the 7 Texas school board members I’ll be happy to rig up a series of photoelectric cells and attach the electrodes to their private areas and they can tell me if they believe in matter and energy.
Naturally I could go on thinking up ways to torture the 7 Texas school board members with Theories that have “Weaknesses” in them but I think it they read this they will get my point.
Image by sayheypatrick via Flickr
By Grant Lawrence
How much does it take to be happy?
Well here in the United States we have been programmed to think it takes quite a lot. We see on television and in advertisements people happy only when they get exactly what they want. According to the Madison Avenue mind manipulators, people will only find happiness when they purchase this or that product or own this or that thing.
Everyone buys into the belief that happiness can only come with more and more. Even the wealthiest of the planet never seem satisfied. They have numerous mansions, many motor vehicles, and all of the finest of everything. These wealthy people, with everything, are the heroes of the common people. Nearly everyone in our country aspires to be like the super rich and to have it all.
But I am going to shock a lot of Americans.
The truth is that you can be happy with less.
I realize telling people that they can be happy with less will likely get me cursed or something worse here in this wonderful capitalist utopia of consumerism known as America. But I risk being ridiculed and condemned as Anti-American for letting people know that they can be happy without the large houses, the newest clothes, the finest cars, boats, and recreational vehicles, and the fine dining.
In fact, there is something called the Happy Planet Index (HPI) which was designed to show that happiness can be achieved with greater efficiency so that people can live long and happy lives without excessive consumption of the earth's resources.
As you can probably guess, Americans require a lot to be happy and yet they are not that happy. But other countries and regions don't require a lot and are as happy or happier. For instance, Germany and the United States roughly have about the same life expectancy and are about as satisfied but Germans do this using half as much of the world's resources as Americans. So Germany is "twice as efficient as Americans in generating long and happy lives based on the resources they consume," according to the Happy Planet Index.
I know that a lot of people here in America, especially fundamentalist Christians, believe that since they can't have everything they want then the world has to somehow come to an end. They wait for "end times" or an "apocalypse" to come and destroy everything because they think people can't live in balance with the life of the earth. They believe that because they are a part of so much greed and imbalance then that must be the way it has to be for the world to function.
But the good news is that we can live long and satisfied lives without destroying the planet. Other countries are living happier on much less.
We don't have to destroy the planet out of greed and stupidity. This may be bad news to some Christian fundamentalists and others who look forward to enjoying their "end times" destruction.
I have faith that God loves us or that we should at least love ourselves, so I suggest we all opt for trying to live in harmony with mother earth and to do our best to live simply and in serenity. Or we can just give up and say that humanity is not good enough to survive. But as the Happy Planet Index indicates, we have examples of people living in greater health and in a happier mind while using a lot less of the earth's resources.
Living happier lives on less can be done but we do have to open our minds to the possibility of living a life that cares for the earth and its beings. Then we won't have to worry about God, or even ourselves, destroying this beautiful planet.
By Grant Lawrence
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama called Afghanistan ''the war we must win.'' He was absolutely right. Now it is time to win it...
Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman calling for an expanded war in Afghanistan
"How true it is that war can destroy everything of value."
Pope Benedict XVI decrying the suffering of Africa
Where troops have been quartered, brambles and thorns spring up. In the track of great armies there must follow lean years.
Lao Tzu on War
As Americans we are raised on the utility of war to conquer every problem. We have a drug problem so we wage war on it. We have a cancer problem so we wage war on it. We have a crime problem so we wage war on it. Poverty cannot be dealt with but it has to be warred against. Terror is another problem that must be warred against.
In the United States, solutions can only be found in terms of wars.
In a society that functions to support a massive military industrial war machine and empire, it is important that the terms promoted support the conditioning of its citizens. We are conditioned to see war as the solution to major social ills and major political disagreements. That way when we see so much of our resources devoted to war then we don't question the utility of it.
The term "war" excites mind and body and creates a fear mentality that looks at life in terms of attack. In war, there has to be an attack and a must win attitude to carry us to victory.
But is this war mentality working for us?
In an age when nearly half of our tax money goes to support the war machine and a good deal of the rest is going to support the elite that control the war machine, we can see that our present war mentality is not working.
Our values have been so perverted by our war mentality that we see sex as sinful but killing as entertainment.
Our society is dripping violence. The violence is fed by poverty, social injustice, the break down of family and community that also arises from economic injustice, and by the managed media.
The cycle of violence that exists in our society exists because it is useful to those that control society.
It is easier to sell the war machine when your population is conditioned to violence. Our military industrial consciousness may not be working for nearly all of the life of the planet but it does work for the very few that are the master manipulators of our values and our consciousness.
Rupert Murdoch, the media monopoly man that runs the "Fair and Balanced" Fox Network, Sky Television, and News Corp just to name a few, had all of his 175 newspapers editorialize in favor of the Iraq war. Murdoch snickers when he says "we tried" to manipulate public opinion." The Iraq war was a good war to Murdoch because, "The death toll, certainly of Americans there, by the terms of any previous war are quite minute."
But, to the media manipulators, the phony politicos, the military industrial elite, a million dead Iraqis are not to be considered. War is big business and it is supported by a war consciousness that allows it to prosper. That is why more war in Afghanistan, the war on Palestinians, and the other wars around the planet in which the military industrial complex builds massive wealth and power will continue.
The military industrial war mentality is not only killing, maiming, and destroying but it is also contributing to the present social and economic collapse. As mentioned previously, the massive wealth transfer that occurs when the American people give half of their money to support death and destruction is money that could have gone to support a just society.
It is no accident that after years of war and preparing for war, our society is crumbling. Science and technological resources along with economic and natural resources have been squandered in the never ending pursuit of enemies. All of that energy could have been utilized for the good of humanity, instead of maintaining the power positions of the very few super wealthy.
So the suffering that we give is ultimately the suffering we get. Humans want to believe that they can escape the consciousness that they live in. But that consciousness determines what we experience and how we live. As long as we choose to live in "War" in our minds then we will continue to get "War" in our lives.
When humanity chooses to wage peace on the world then there will be a flowering of life. But until then we will be forced to live the life our present war consciousness is creating.
Image via WikipediaRecently it was reported that casinos may not be allowed to use any of the federal stimulus money. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has asked for clarification of the Casino ban by pointing out that casinos are often the only suitable place for conferences and workshops.
I support Senator Reid on this.
I do believe that the federal government should be doing more to help the casinos. After all, look at what the federal government has done to help other institutions that engage in gambling.
For instance the government has pumped billions into AIG, a gambling operation that pretended to be an insurance company. Now the casinos make sure that they come out the winners in their gambling transactions but AIG must have been fairly unschooled in gaming so they lost big on their bets.
So here we have a case where the federal government is rewarding inefficiencies and bad business practices by giving hundreds of billions to AIG but not allowing successful casinos to get a little of that stimulus money.
But is that the message we want to send our young people. That you can be too rich too fail so we want to make sure that you are covered in your gaming practices. But if you are a successful gamer then you get nothing from the taxpayers. Or do we want to send the message that whether you win or lose, if you are a super wealthy gambler, we will reward your success as well as your failures.
AIG is only one example of gaming gone bad. Trillions are now being pumped into the hands of the Wall Street and banking gamblers that made their bets on "toxic assets," credit default swaps, off balance sheet dirivatives, and whatever other gaming that seemed a good bet at the time.
Some say that when it all said and done that there may be 5 to 10 trillion dollars that will have been used to save the losers in the Wall Street gaming industry. But casinos are an example of successful gaming and therefore they should also be rewarded with their fair share.
If we make sure all big time gaming is rewarded our young people will continue to have faith in the American system. A system that rewards success as well as failure as long as you are a part of the elite wealthy that control the country and the world.
So I stand with Senator Harry Reid in asking that all gaming be rewarded and not just the failed operations. We must reinforce American values here.
An America that values the failed rich and the successful rich and will continue to make sure that the super rich get to enjoy the fruits of the people's labors. An America where the people support their super wealthy with pride. An America where the super rich know that they have the full faith and support of the people as well as their government. An America that is also willing to do what it can to help cover the gaming of the super wealthy around the world. An America that puts their dollars into action by making sure that super wealthy gamers around the world know that they are loved and cared for by the taxpayers in this country.
I join with Senator Reid in asking for an America with deep pockets for those that need it most.
The super wealthy gaming industries.
Image via WikipediaWhat Professionals Are Saying
Global stocks traded higher, as did the dollar against the euro, Thursday after the Federal Reserve's surprise announcement it would buy $300 billion in US Treasurys in order to help the ailing economy.
But experts tell CNBC they have concerns over the Fed's latest move and that the current national balance sheet is a disaster.
US is Already 'Bankrupt'
Technically, the U.S. is already "bankrupt" because it has a debt that is almost four times the size of its economy, says Puru Saxena, CEO of Puru Saxena Wealth Management. He tells CNBC that the U.S. is at risk of hyperinflation.
Fed to Buy Treasurys is Not a Good Sign
Stephen Roach, chairman for Asia at Morgan Stanley does not view the Fed's plan to buy $300 billion worth of long-dated government debt as a constructive sign for prospects going forward.
Fed's Move Unlikely to Help Economy
The Fed pumping money into Treasurys won't help, says Martin Weiss, president of Weiss Research. He also discusses what can be done to turn the US economy around.
The US Stuck in Zero-Rate Mode?
America is arrogant to deny their similarity to Japan's economy, says Stephen Roach, chairman for Asia at Morgan Stanley. He tells CNBC that the US economy is in a "zero-interest rate" mode, like Japan.
Quantitative Easing & the Fed's Balance Sheet
Thomas Lam, vice president and senior treasury economist at UOB, says the Fed's latest moves such as to buy long-dated Treasurys will stretch its balance sheet and pump more liquidity into economy.
The Fed's Recent Moves are Right
"This decision to purchase long-term assets, mortgages, long-term treasury securities, is the right thing to do. The Fed would clearly rather err on the side of inflation rather then depression," said Dennis Gartman from the Gartman Letter. He also touches on the housing market in the US as well as the TALF.
Tackling US Economy
Housing problems need to be tackled before the U.S. economy can pick up, according to Adam Carr, senior economist at ICAP.
2010: 'Real Peak of the Crisis'
"We are going to see real problems in 2010 when the Fed and all the other governments which issued stimulus packages are going to try to reabsorb some of that liquidity," Nicu Harajchi, CEO & Founder of N1 Asset Management, said Thursday. He considers whether the Fed's latest move will work.
Fed's Actions Bode Well for Asia
The Fed's bold moves to support the U.S. economy is good news for Asia, believes Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic advisor at MasterCard Worldwide.
Redirecting China's Foreign Investments
China is unlikely to unload their dollar-denominated reserve as such a move will only hurt themselves at this point, says Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic advisor at MasterCard Worldwide. He tells CNBC how its foreign investment strategy may change.
China Needs Internal Demand
China needs to change its structure to an internal demand driven economy, says Stephen Roach, chairman for Asia at Morgan Stanley. He tells CNBC that China is hugely dependent on external demand as a major source of economic growth.
ECB in "Splendid Isolation"
The ECB should be out there pumping money into the system, says Paul Donovan, MD & head of global economics at UBS. He tells CNBC that the central bank is sitting in "splendid isolation".
More Pain Ahead for Europe
There is no cause for optimism in the medium term, despite the better-than-expected data from the ZEW survey, says Par Magnusson, senior analyst at Danske Bank.
UK Due for Inflation Spike?
The UK economy is facing higher inflation down the road, Andy Hartwill from Quasar told CNBC, as Britain posted its highest ever budget deficit Thursday.
Deflation Will Hit Mid-Year
Deflation is a near-term risk that may hit global economies in the middle of the year, warns Paul Donovan, MD & head of global economics at UBS.
Preventing Runaway Inflation
When liquidity floodgates open, global central banks will have to sterilize very aggressively and in time to prevent runaway inflation. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic advisor at MasterCard Worldwide tells CNBC how this can be resolved quickly.
Image via Wikipedia
By James B. Kelleher
CHICAGO (Reuters) - As they struggle to close ballooning budget deficits amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, many U.S. state and local governments will be tempted to follow the example of Chicago.
The third-largest U.S. city has raised billions of dollars in recent years turning public assets over to private businesses that then run them as for-profit enterprises.
The early success of those transactions, as well a much-longer track record overseas, has stoked an interest in these "public-private partnerships" -- or P3s for short.
So, too, has the growth of funds focused on P3 investing. In recent years, they've raised money from pension funds and other big investors faster than assets have hit the market, creating a demand for deals that has only gained strength as Wall Street melted down and triggered a flight to safety.
"These things give investors steady earnings over a long period of time," said James McKinney, head of debt capital markets at William Blair & Co, a lead adviser to Chicago when the city leased 36,000 parking meters to a private consortium.
But critics warn the push to lease toll roads, airports, parking meters and other public assets to corporate concessionaires is not the painless panacea backers claim.
They say the deals, especially when asset values are depressed across the board, are myopic moves that elevate private profit over public good, entail long-term costs and risks, and could trigger a financial crisis of their own.
"The devil is in the details -- as future generations to come will learn," said Pat Andrews, editor of Alltolled.com, a Web site dedicated to preventing more highway privatizations in the state of Indiana, another pioneer of such transactions.
"That's the most irritating thing about this -- the sheer shortsightedness of it. It's money now and who the hell cares about three generations from now. And that's not right."
But backers say a reluctance to tax, coupled with chronic underinvestment in public services for decades, has left many city and state financial managers little choice.
"There needs to be an introduction of private sector capital to help deal with the legacy of underinvestment and, frankly, undercharging for infrastructure that has gone on in this country for a very long time," said Tom Osborne, head of Americas Infrastructure/Privatization at UBS.
But McKinney at William Blair & Co admits the current downturn is focusing policy-makers' minds.
"There are a lot of municipalities that are suddenly open to discussions on the topic, that's for sure," McKinney said.
In the deal William Blair brokered last year, a Morgan Stanley infrastructure investment fund paid Chicago nearly $1.2 billion up front to operate the parking meters for 75 years -- or more than 60 times the system's annual operating profit of about $19 million.
That eye-popping multiple generated lots of buzz and interest among cash-strapped municipal officials nationwide.
"We've got guys marketing coast to coast right now, talking to people, introducing them to the concept, and going through the math on it and the economics of it," McKinney said.
Adding to the P3 push: Massive liquidity sitting on the sidelines. In recent years, billions of dollars have flooded into so-called infrastructure investment funds.
But with so much interest and so much money at stake, it's no surprise that public asset privatization has sharp critics.
Indeed, an effort by the state of Pennsylvania last year to lease its turnpike to private investors came to nothing amid legislative opposition to the plan.
Elliot Sclar, a professor at Columbia University in New York, sees the P3s as just the latest product Wall Street bankers have dreamt up to make a buck - and one taxpayers will pay to clean up.
"Just watch," Sclar said. "This is going to be the subprime mortgage scandal for the next generation."
With too much money chasing too few good deals, Sclar says, the transactions will get riskier. When a private operator eventually hits trouble, states and municipalities that saw the long-term leases as free money will find themselves involved in complex and costly litigation and unknown liabilities.
But opponents also include bankers like Dennis Enright, a principal at NW Financial Group, a regional investment banking group in New Jersey involved in municipal underwriting.
Enright's objection is simple and compelling.
If private investment funds are willing to buy the bonded debt of a decaying road like the Chicago Skyway based on the expected cash it will generate over the next 99 years, then doesn't it makes more sense --- from a strictly financial standpoint -- for government to do the deal itself?
By including private concessionaires, Enright says, states and municipalities are essentially leaving billions of dollars on the table and subjecting users and taxpayers to higher costs - and greater risks - down the road.
"What we tried to bring to it was some rational analysis to this," he said. "It was curiosity that drove us to analyze them and when we did the math we said: 'Oh my God, this is crazy."
Enright says he's also concerned about the length of the concession periods involved in U.S. deals. Although backers of the deals often point to the long track record of P3 success in Europe, South America and Asia, there are some significant differences. In almost all the overseas deals, the assets were roads newly built by the concessionaire, not existing ones originally built by the public. And concession period was typically much shorter and usually no more than 30 years.
Osborne at UBS acknowledged that tax-exempt municipal bonds are a cheaper way to raise money than the equity and corporate debt private firms rely on. But like all the bankers involved in the deals, he said the bottom line is more complex.
The Prime Minister gave Mr Obama an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet.
In return President Obama gave him a set of 25 DVDs.
This would be a bad enough exchange of gifts but the DVDs had the DRM region coding for North America so they won’t even play in England. Engadet reports.
That is just too funny to think up a punchline.
For those of you who haven’t been following the latest media war, about a month ago CNBC commentator Rick Santelli had an on-air rant where he asked why the stock traders who made huge amounts of money under the deregulation of the markets should pay for the “Loser’s” mortgages.
That same week he was scheduled to appear on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”. Someone must have warned him that Stewart would use that rant against him so he canceled.
The Daily Show went ahead and ran that clip as well as some great clips from CNBC where their commentators made wildly bad stock picks, like Jim Cramer recommending people hold on to Bear Stearns stock three days before it went from over $60 a share to $2.
If CNBC had left it at that they would have had to eat some humble pie, and the whole thing would have been forgotten about. But Jim Cramer decided to make it personal. He went every NBC show he could, including Martha Stewart, saying how Jon Stewart was being unfair to him. (Just a tip if you are being accused of playing dirty tricks with stocks, hanging out publicly with someone who went to jail for Insider Trading is not a smart play.)
Naturally The Daily Show had to hit back and did an entire segment on bad advice given by Cramer. For some reason Jim Cramer decided to answer those allegations and agreed to appear on The Daily Show.
To be kind to Jim Cramer I will just say that he got his ass handed to him, after Jon put it through a meat grinder, handed off to Emeril Lagasse who fried it up Creole style with special seasoning and onions and “Bam, just like that” Cramer was humiliated. Other commentators haven’t been as nice to Cramer in their description of that interview.
Stewart was hitting him with things that no one could justify like: "Listen, you knew what the banks were doing, yet were touting it for months and months," Stewart said during his March 12 show. "The entire network was. Now to pretend that this was some sort of crazy, once-in-a-lifetime tsunami that nobody could have seen coming is disingenuous at best and criminal at worst."
The beat down was so bad that Cramer canceled all his post Daily Show interviews.
If CNBC had left it at that they would be able to slowly shift the blame of their bad journalism to the entire news industry. CNBC turned into cheerleaders for the financial industry just like the rest of the news had been cheerleaders for Bush when we rushed to war with Iraq.
Instead of quietly trying to smother the flames, NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker has decided to grab the nearest Gasoline tanker and pour its contents on the embers. At the McGraw-Hill Media Summit in New York, he said that Stewart was being “Unfair” and “…to suggest that the business media or CNBC was responsible for what is going on now is absurd."
To say that reporters should ask follow up questions and not just serve as PR flackys for companies when they are lying is absurd? I can’t wait until Monday to see Jon Stewart’s response.
Although CNBC is being incredibly stupid in their handling of this, they may be doing the nation a great service by inviting Stewart to look over the network news practices with a magnifying glass. If this war keeps on long enough maybe the entire news industry will see why people no longer find them credible and that is why the whole journalism industry has gone into the tank financially and some mainstream outlet might just start reporting the truth instead of just repeating whatever their sponsors tell them.
Original Story Here.
Bush has often gotten out of jams by dint of personal charm, and he’s trying that once again...
From a recent news story on the struggle that the Former President now faces.
Image by danny.hammontree via Flickr
By Grant Lawrence
Times are tough for the country and the world but it seems that
things aren't so great for former President George W. Bush.
Bush now faces one of his toughest challenges.
He has to convince the wealthy of the world to contribute 300 million to his library. At first thought, you would think that it would be quite easy for the former President to gather 300 million from wealthy donors.
After all, the super rich owe their President a lot. They were able to profit handsomely from America's wars. They were able to amass greater fortunes because of Bush's support for economic globalization and an American economy that made Reagan's "trickle down" seem somehow progressive. But most importantly when there was a possibility that the super rich might lose some of those super riches, Bush stepped in and in a matter of a week or so he came up with a trillion or 2 to help out.
So what's the problem?
Well there is some complaining at Southern Methodist University in Dallas about the President having his library there. Also, the economic depression and the endless wars has made the former President awfully unpopular among common Americans. I guess the super rich don't want to make the rabble any more upset then they already are.
But Bush is a fighter. He has faced tough challenges in the past and if anyone can build himself a library worth hundreds of millions of dollars, it is our former Commander-in-Chief.
But I do hate to see the former President have to interrupt his biking, speaking engagements, golfing (oh, I guess he gave that up because he says he felt sorry for all of the people he killed), writing of his memoirs, fine dining, parties, and social fun by having to worry about his library.
But I have a plan that I think could help out the former President.
I believe that Bush needs to do more than offer to build the library. If he were to offer to create a memorial within the library for the tens of thousands of dead and wounded American soldiers, the millions of war torn Iraqis and Afghans, and even the tens of millions of Americans ravaged by Bush economics then I am sure he could gain a lot more support for the project. If he offered to build this memorial along with his library then it might create a groundswell of support for the work to proceed.
Come to think of it, Bush could also include sections in the memorial to those tortured, enemy combatants, assassinations authorized by the Administration, illegal wiretapping, the shredding of the constitution, and the art of propaganda and the big lie. I am sure those additions to the library/memorial would really build some excitement among progressives and liberals in the country.
I know I am missing some things that could be included in the library/memorial. But the former President should ultimately be the one to decide on what he wants to add. Or he can do like he did during his Presidency, and turn everything over to the Head of Assassinations, former Vice President Cheney. Then Bush could just do what he does best.
Image via Wikipedia
By Grant Lawrence
President Obama has called the bonus payout to the AIG executive derivative traders an "outrage."
Well I think it is probably good to be outraged over millions of dollars of American taxpayer money going to greedy executives that don't know how to speculate.
But let's face it. The executives at AIG had a rough year last year. They lost big and they need a little something to help them forget about the past. I know a lot of liberal types are calling for an intervention in the freedom of executives to make fabulous fortunes at the expense of the American people. But I am more concerned about the "American Way" and that is the ability of the super wealthy to stay super wealthy even during tough economic times.
But in this new globalized world we live in, American taxpayers have to do more than support the super wealthy in America. We now have to support many of the big banks of Europe.
According to a recent news report, "The documents AIG released account for some of the more than $180 billion in aid that AIG has received, and they detailed for the first time which financial firms are benefitting from the federal handout. In all, AIG disclosed payments of $105.3 billion between September and December 2008. And some of the biggest recipients were European banks. Societe Generale, based in France, was the top foreign recipient at $11.9 billion, Deutsche Bank of Germany got $11.8 billion and Barclays, based in England, was paid $8.5 billion...."
So when you have the wonders of a Globalized economy that supports transnational financial and corporate interests then you have to take the good with the bad.
The bad news is that Globalization shipped most of America's good paying jobs to sweat shop labor. Globalization also brought about a US economy built on credit because the working Americans lost income year after year.
So I guess it is only fitting that after raping the average American worker in the name of Globalization that our government took whatever was left and bailed out wealthy executives and the big banks around the world.
Under Globalization the rich got richer and all we got was a Wal-Mart economy.
Image via WikipediaBy Grant Lawrence
According to a recent AP story, Cheney says you can't blame the Bush Administration for the economy in America.
The economy is a global problem and it isn't Bush's fault, according to Cheney.
But I believe that Darth Cheney and the Bush gang might have done better with the economy. But it seems that they were too busy working with assassination squads, torturing, and planning on how to blow up Iran.
All of this takes a lot of time and mental effort. The economy, according to Cheney, is something the Administration has little or no control over. Besides, helping Americans have jobs and health care is not as much fun as planning your next assassination.
So if Administrations have no control over the economy of the
nation then why are we handing trillions over to the banksters to save the economy?
But the economy is a question that is not much fun to ponder.
Instead it seems it is better to think about ways to kill people and destroy countries. Or at least that is what the Bush/Cheney team has been doing for the last 8 years.
By Grant Lawrence
Unfortunately there is little conjecture about the cause(s) of the world's present state of crisis. Sure there is a lot of talk about the economy, the wars, the environment, and societal dysfunction but there is little talk of of how all of these problems are interrelated.
So how does the war in Afghanistan or the brutalization that occurs in Burma relate to the world's economy and eco-disasters? How are all of humanity's dysfunctional choices and behaviors interconnected?
Humans operate from a certain level of consciousness. It is from a certain level of being that we perceive our reality, make our choices, and act accordingly.
Currently human consciousness is being ruled by our reptilian brain. But that is nothing new. For much of human history, humanity has chosen to let the reptilian part of their brain rule their consciousness. That is the most primitive part of our brains that has a central focus--survival.
According to progressive writer and commentator Thom Hartman, the reptilian brain "doesn't think in abstract terms, and doesn't feel complex emotions. Instead, it's responsible for fight-or-flight, hunger and fear, attack or run. It's also non-verbal - you can stimulate it with the right words, but it operates purely at the level of visceral stimulus-response."
In fact it is the reptilian brain that propagandists, advertisers, politicians, militarists, and the rest of societal mind manipulators speak to when they want to motivate the masses of people.
The fear response is powerful manipulator and as Nazi General Herman Goering noted:
“Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
In nearly every place and time in recorded history, humanity has been motivated by danger to do the bidding of their leaders. Danger activates the reptilian brain and fear is the motivator. The fight or flight response is what has driven human consciousness for ages.
We are in our present fix because of human consciousness.
Humanity has allowed itself to become prisoners of its primitive brain. The passion and the automatic responses of emotions have been fueled by a consciousness of danger and fear. The Reptilian brain of humanity responds to what it is being fed. It produces powerful emotions that color our consciousness and create a certain vibrational state of being or a certain level of consciousness.
We are all being manipulated like puppets and that manipulation is destroying us and our world.
That manipulation is creating a certain consciousness ruled by reptilian passions that has created so much harm to life. We wonder why the economy has collapsed. We wonder why there are wars. We wonder why cancer is growing and the environment is dangerously polluted. We wonder why the climate is changing.
Western science has taught humanity to look at problems and specialize in their understanding. The world is too big and complex and we need to specialize in this or that discipline, or so we are told. But all of this specialization has made us lose track of the big picture. We have trained our minds not to see the connections that exist and to make conclusions from them. We have blinded ourselves to what is right in front of us. The truth that we exist in relationships and all of these relationships have their foundations in consciousness.
Humanity has to understand that we cannot tackle our present problems from the same consciousness that created them.
If we continue to operate from our Reptilian brain then we will continue to follow the same path of brutality, death, and destruction. We will continue to see a world based on greed and the lust for power fueled by fear arising from ignorance. We will continue to see a world that is in the midst of catastrophic collapse.
Many believe that 2012 will magically usher in a new consciousness for humanity. But I see 2012 as a turning point for humanity. A time when the mass of humanity could decide to take that that next step in evolutionary consciousness toward a more reality based existence. Or humanity could continue to operate from its primitive reptilian brain, manipulated by the mind benders that presently run the world's military industrial complex.
In the future, humans can continue to feed social and environmental degradation by continuing to react from the conditioning that they have been exposed to from birth. Or we can choose to break out of the chains of a limited reptilian consciousness and into a world of life. A world in which we recognize how important all of life is to our own life and we recognize that we cannot separate ourselves from the suffering we inflict on others.
So the world we are seeing is the world we have all created from our own consciousness. Our rapid advance in technology can mean a better world for humanity or a living hell nightmare for all. Our future, like our present and past, is arising from our own level of being which has arisen from an eternity of relationships.
Just what type of world will arise is only as certain as what type of people we are. Unless we reconnect with the world and the rest of life from an understanding of our relationship with it, there will be some very difficult times for all of the world's life. If we open our hearts and minds to another level of reality we can support a better world in which future generations will someday thank us. Or we can continue in our reptilian consciousness and future generations will curse us and despise us. That is if there will be any future generations left.
We are choosing our future from our present level of consciousness.
What consciousness are you choosing?
I’ve gotten some interesting comments on my blog when I commented on a story published in the Consumerist.com.
For those who haven’t read it, X-Box live is actively discriminating against people who identify themselves as Gay or Lesbian (or who have the word Gay in their name. So people with the last name Gaywood or Gaylord can’t use the service).
This is blatant discrimination against 10% of the population, but as a private company Microsoft does have the right to discriminate when they offer services to the public. However it is a really bad business decision.
So I’d like to talk about the economics of discrimination. In sales discrimination can help or hurt a company. When a company targets groups with their products it is a form of soft discrimination. Apple designs and advertises their products aimed at two groups of people, the non-techie creative type and the Super Hardcore Techie (Those who skip the GUI interface and use the UNIX core of the Mac). This allows Apple to charge a higher margin for their machines than other computer makers.
This works for Apple because they tap into a more affluent (generally) segment of the population and they have built their entire company around making computers for that segment of the population. As a result that segment of the population is more loyal to the company.
X-Box Live on the other hand is a service designed for individuals who have some free discretionary income, have free time, and like to interact with other live people while playing games (16-30 year olds).
It’s a fact that Gays and Lesbians tend to have fewer children and have them later in life than straights. This means when they are in their early adult years they have more discretionary income and more free time as they don’t have to spend it all on children.
On the other side of the scale are the homophobes, who like companies that discriminate against gays. On paper they make up about 20% of the population although I’ve found that a lot of people who fit the profile of a homophobe (Belong to an Evangelical Church or are Mormon, republican, ect.) have gay friends and have no problem with their lifestyle.
Even if they were the actual 20% amount that wouldn’t translate into larger profits for Microsoft as they tend to have children earlier thus having less discretionary income and less free time, plus the conversations they like to have like potty training, their kids marks at school ect. Don’t really fit into the X-Box Live’s chat system. “Take out that monster, BTW my kid got an A in Basket Weaving.” As a result easily half these people (the 22-30 year olds) would never become X-Box Live members anyway.
That leaves two more groups 16-18 year olds and 18-22 year olds. For the 18-22 most of them are either in college or the military, odds are they know quite a few openly gay people already and will just avoid openly gay players like they do with openly gay people in life.
That leaves the 16-18 years olds. They are too happy to be playing the game to worry about the other players life outside the game, so it’s their parents who would determine if they could keep their X-Box Live account. Any parent who thinks that the Gayness can be spread over the Internet probably thinks that violence can be spread that way too and won’t let their kid have an X-Box Live account to begin with.
Microsoft’s policy is to actively turn away 10% of the population that are prime targets for it’s services to appease a group of people that will probably not be their customers anyway. This is especially surprising coming from Microsoft since it knows it would be costly if they tried the same thing with their hiring policy it would make the labor costs to high for even them to afford.
Those of you who know me, might be wondering how any of this effect’s me?
It doesn’t directly as I own a Playstation 3 and I’m married to a wonderful woman. However I do like to have a choice, if they don’t start releasing games that can use the power of the PS3, I may have to switch to the X-Box 4 in 10 years or so. If Microsoft continues this policy then their Live service will be very slow to improve, forcing Apple to come out with a similar service to grab the 10% of the population Microsoft is abandoning.
Although I love the power of my Mac, I would hate to try and play an online game surrounded by Fanboys.